August 15, 2007

Mitt Romney "Not Running as Mormon?"

What do you make of Mitt Romney's recent statement during an interview on conservative radio that he is "not running as a Mormon?" Unless I'm missing something fairly obvious here, Romney is running as a Mormon. He has chosen this faith freely and could reject it for a reality-based belief system if he wanted to do so. It seems absurd that he would not realize that his religion, which many Americans associate with polygamy, would not be a topic of interest.

I noted how Romney said he was proud of his faith one minute and then indicated he did not want to talk about it the next. As Pam at Pam's House Blend explained, "Mitt's trying to navigate attracting the bible beaters by citing his faith without drawing too much attention to Mormonism specifically..." It does appear that he's trying to have it both ways, and it is hard to imagine that this will prove successful.

It seems to me that when a candidate uses his or her religious beliefs to claim morality, as a rationale for opposing reproductive rights, etc., the nature of the religious beliefs become fodder for discussion. To the degree that the beliefs are unfamiliar to a majority of potential voters, they will attract additional attention.

I understand that Romney wants to be thought of as more than just a Mormon and that he would tire of interviewers inevitably focusing on his faith. Still, it seems like this is a small price to pay for the first prominent Mormon presidential candidate. Just think how hard this will be for the first openly atheist candidate!

Whether Romney likes it or not, he is in fact running as a Mormon. He is asking to lead America, and he has indicated that his religious beliefs are an important part of his identity. If he cannot handle the questions, maybe he should discard his superstitions, his quest for the presidency, or both.

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